CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

Foreign investment in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Overseas Investment Office - November 2023 Decisions

"Goodbye, Freddie"

November provides quite a contrast to October - a lot less Decisions, none declined, and absolutely none featuring Ministerial Decisions. Probably everything to do with the fact that it was the month after the election i.e. that strange interregnum period between Governments, while the Coalition was being negotiated, and the country was being run by an invisible and defeated caretaker Labour government. But the OIO never stops; those foreign investors have to be waved through, come hell or high water. Or elections.

These two Decisions are part of a standing consent granted by the OIO in 2020 (these two were signed off in January 2023). The buyer is Oceana Gold (New Zealand) Limited United States of America (42%); United Kingdom (25%); Canada (11%); Australia (8%); Various (14%). To quote the OIO: "The Consent Holder was granted a standing consent under the incidental residential and non-residential use tests on 6 October 2020".

"The consent permits the Consent Holder to acquire up to 75ha of residential (but not otherwise sensitive) land in up to 15 transactions of five ha per transaction, within the Hauraki District Council territory. Under the standing consent the Consent Holder is permitted to acquire residential land for various purposes related to its mining activities in Waihi. The Consent Holder intends to lease the land until mining activity commences/or while mining takes place".

These two are the fifth and sixth purchases of the 15 permitted under the standing consent. For the record, Oceana bought "a freehold interest in approximately 0.0359 hectares of residential-only sensitive land at 6 Gilmour Street, Waihi, Hauraki District", for $740,000; and "a freehold interest in approximately 0.0398 hectares of Land at 83 Kenny Street, Waihi, Hauraki District", for $755,000. These two piddly little purchases are part of the much bigger and uglier picture that is Oceana Gold in Coromandel.

Catherine Delahunty of Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki has been writing about this transnational corporation for years in (our) Watchdog, most recently in 163 (August 2023, "Mining Watchdogs Can Never Sleep") "A group of urban activists, Ours Not Mines, is taking on a vital aspect of the Wharekirauponga case behind Whangamata. They have taken Hauraki District Council to the High Court over the Oceana Gold proposal to build vents from the underground mine on a paper road in the heart of the DoC forest".

"The Hauraki District Council granted long term rights to Oceana to build these structures on the paper road for $1 per year, but Ours Not Mines is challenging the Council's right to put a permanent structure in this public space. Oceana is, of course, trying to use the road to avoid having to ask DoC if it can put up mine structures on the surface of conservation lands".

"Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki continues to prepare for the main hearings which will be fighting Oceana Gold over the impacts of blasting and mining under the forest habitat of one of the rarest frogs in the world, the Archey's frog, which is a 200-million-year-old unique species that doesn't like vibration. It will be a costly exercise for our group but we hope other groups will support this. If Oceana can mine under Wharekirauponga, it can mine anywhere. There are also some Hauraki iwi expressing deep concern about this proposal".

The October 2023 change of Government means full steam ahead for the mining industry (not that Labour can hold its head high - it never did honour its promise to ban mining on Department of Conservation land). The mainstream media started to write front page lead articles and features about mining, for example the Press (27/1/24, "New Zealand 'On The Precipice' Of A New Gold Rush", Joanne Naish).

"Not Everyone Is Happy"

Here's the extract about Oceana and Coromandel. "Not everyone is happy. Former Green MP and Coromandel Watchdog Chairperson Catherine Delahunty says the gold industry creates toxic waste including arsenic, zinc and lead, and leaves a 'great weeping scar in the earth' for future generations. She said there was no need to extract more gold when only a third of that already mined is in use, and with new methods being used to recycle gold from e-waste".

"'It's disappointing our Government is encouraging unnecessary gold mining when we already have 400 years-worth above ground'. She has been fighting to protect rare native Archey's frogs in the Coromandel where Oceana Gold hopes to develop a mine and dig a 6.8 km tunnel, under public conservation land at Wharekirauponga, north of Waihī. The frogs are the world's most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered amphibian species, according to the Department of Conservation".

"However, they were directly attacked by (Resources Minister) Shane Jones in his first speech to Parliament in December (2023), when he said, 'if there is a mineral, if there is a mining opportunity and it's impeded by a blind frog, goodbye, Freddie'. Jones has since told the Press there was scope for mining on conservation land provided it was done 'strategically and sensitively'".

"'We have had an absurd situation where frogs have now been deified. Frogs are not gods, snails are not ecclesiastic figures. Frogs and snails have been used by people who are opposed to any mining and don't believe in capitalism'. He said he wanted to provide certainty and a stronger sense of legitimacy for the mining industry that for decades has been 'stigmatised'".

"'New Zealand is sitting literally on a gold mine. It's time to boost GDP. An additional 1% of GDP growth is an additional $1.3bn in Treasury's coffers to pay down the enormous amount of debt we have amassed as a consequence of covid'. He said anti-mining rhetoric claiming it was a disappearing and dirty industry was deliberate misinformation and a calculated, robustly developed agenda to cease all mining in New Zealand".

40,000 people (including a young Labour up and comer called Jacinda Ardern) marched down Auckland's Queen Street in May 2010 in protest against the then National government's plan to allow mining in national parks (perhaps John Key thought they were National's parks?). The Government dropped the idea. Perhaps it's time for those banners to be got out of storage. My prediction for 2024 - that flatulent windbag Shane Jones going from bad to worse and winding up his innumerable opponents by singing "It's Not Easy Being Green" in his best Kermit the Frog voice.

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